US election 2020: Michael Bloomberg mulls presidential bid

File image of Michael Bloomberg, April 2018
Michael Bloomberg has highlighted climate change and gun control as key issues

Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is again considering entering the race for the US Democratic party’s presidential nomination.

The ex-New York City mayor is concerned the current field of candidates is not good enough to beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election, an adviser says.

The 77-year-old is expected to file paperwork on Friday for the Democratic presidential primary in Alabama.

However, he has not yet made a decision on whether to run, advisers add.

If Mr Bloomberg does get on the ballot in Alabama, he will still have to register in other states which have later filing deadlines.

State-by-state votes, known as primaries and caucuses, will be held from February next year to pick a Democratic White House nominee.

The eventual winner will be crowned at the party convention in Wisconsin in July. He or she is expected to face President Trump, a Republican, in the general election in November.

A total of 17 Democratic candidates are vying to be the party’s standard-bearer.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are the front-runners.

At a campaign fundraiser in Boston on Thursday, Mr Biden did not address Mr Bloomberg’s potential candidacy.

Ms Warren welcomed Mr Bloomberg to the race on Twitter, linking to her own campaign website and suggesting the former mayor take a look for potential policy plans.

In a more pointed response, seemingly directed at Mr Bloomberg, Mr Sanders wrote on Twitter: “The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared.”

Some recent opinion polls have suggested that Ms Warren and Mr Sanders – who are more politically liberal than Mr Biden – might face an uphill battle against Mr Trump.


What did Bloomberg’s adviser say?

In a statement, Howard Wolfson said: “We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated.

“But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that.

“Based on his record of accomplishment, leadership and his ability to bring people together to drive change, Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win,” Mr Wolfson said.

Graphical comparison of some information about Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg. Trump is 73, from New York, worth $3.1bn and has had 3 wives/partners. Bloomberg is 77, from Massachusetts, worth $52bn and has had 2 wives/partners.
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But his advisers also acknowledge that Mr Bloomberg’s belated entry to the race could present challenges in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where other Democratic contenders have been campaigning for months.

The Bloomberg team are reportedly planning to focus on the so-called Super Tuesday contests in March, when 14 states, including California, Alabama and Colorado, will vote on a single day for their preferred White House nominee.

If he enters the race, Mr Bloomberg will face intense scrutiny of his three-term mayoral record in New York.

While in office, he defended the New York Police Department’s use of the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, similar to stop-and-search in the UK, which critics say disproportionately targets African Americans and Hispanics. Black voters are a vital constituency for Democrats.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, President Trump said Mr Bloomberg “will fail” if he joins the Democratic race.

Candidates who want to get on the Democratic primary ballot in Alabama must submit the necessary paperwork by Friday.

New Hampshire’s filing deadline is next week, on 15 November.

A New York billionaire as president?

So far this is only a single toe entering the water, but it’s a significant one. The presence of the former New York mayor and multi-billionaire would set alight the race for the Democratic Party nomination.

The politician closest to Mr Bloomberg’s centrist outlook is Joe Biden – but his campaign appears to be fading.

Mr Bloomberg has, I understand, been doing a lot of polling in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

This isn’t the first time that he’s eyed a run at the presidency, only to eventually decide against.

But in the past he’s ruled himself out because he thought Americans wouldn’t vote for a billionaire New York businessman. That concern no longer applies.

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Who is Michael Bloomberg?

Mr Bloomberg’s net worth is $52bn (£40bn), according to Forbes. This is nearly 17 times more than that of Mr Trump ($3.1bn).

Mr Bloomberg was a Wall Street banker who went on to found the financial publishing empire that bears his name.

A philanthropist, he has donated millions of dollars to educational, medical and other causes.

Originally a Democrat, he became a Republican to mount a successful campaign for mayor of New York City in 2001.

He went on to serve three terms as mayor until 2012, rejoining the Democratic Party only last year.

Michael Bloomberg (left) and Donald Trump at a golf course in New York. Photo: July 2007From friends to bitter rivals: Michael Bloomberg (left) and Donald Trump

Regarded as a moderate Democrat, he has highlighted climate change as a key issue, but he had appeared to dismiss a potential run for the presidency earlier this year.

Mr Bloomberg is a large financial backer of gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, which he helped found in 2014.

The group, and Mr Bloomberg, were seen as playing a major role in a sweeping victory for Democrats in Virginia state elections earlier this week.

They vastly outspent gun lobby group the National Rifle Association – which is based in Virginia – by pumping $2.5m into the state race.

Bethany Osborne with Oliver and Evelyn
Image copyrightBETHANY OSBORNE
Bethany Osborne moved back in to her parents’ house with her children Oliver, 1, and Evelyn, 5, last Christmas

Bethany Osborne left home at 19, but now, at 22, she’s back in her parents’ home in Romford, using their washing machine, eating food from the fridge and watching TV on her dad’s Netflix account.

This year, the “kidults” were staying longer – just over 10 months – and costing their parents £1,640 as the householders shouldered the water, heating and electricity bills, as well as paying for takeaway meals, toiletries and food.

The price comparison site surveyed 500 adults who had moved back into their parents’ home and 500 parents who had adult children back living with them.

MoneySuperMarket’s spokeswoman, Emma Craig, says parents are under huge emotional pressure to help children struggling with their finances.

“I think what we’re seeing is more young people with more debt, so when they’re going back to their parents’, they’re coming with higher student loans, probably credit card debt, maybe payday loans.”

“So the reason parents are paying more is they’re trying to look after their children more. If your child comes home and you see them struggling financially, you feel more awkward asking them for rent or to contribute. It tugs on your heartstrings more.”

Washing machineImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Parents often end up doing the laundry of grown up children

The survey found that 18% of adult children said they were moving back home because of debt, compared with 8% last year.

Moreover, 12% said it was because they had lost their job, compared with 7% last year. This year, 27% said it was because they couldn’t afford their rent, compared with 25% last year.

On top of the day-to-day spending, parents reported forking out £1,886 on redecorating, buying new furniture and upgrading their wi-fi to accommodate returning offspring.

In Bethany’s case, she doesn’t have any extra debt on top of her student loans, but her relationship with her partner broke down and as a trainee nurse she couldn’t afford to rent an apartment on her own.

With seven of them in her parents’ house (including a 20-year-old sister home from university and an 18-year-old brother still at college), there is friction over the one bathroom and who should unload the dishwasher.

But her parents seem willing, determined even, to shoulder the costs and help out, says Bethany.

“My mum feels obliged to, because it’s like when we were little. She feels the three of us – me, my brother and sister – are like her little kids still,” she says.

Equifax to pay up to $700m to settle data breach

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Credit score agency Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700m (£561m) as part of a settlement with a US regulator following a data breach in 2017.

“This settlement requires that the company take steps to improve its data security going forward, and will ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud.”

The agency added that among the stolen information, the hackers copied:

  • at least 147 million names and dates of birth
  • about 145.5 million Social Security numbers
  • a total of 209,000 payment card numbers and expiration dates

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has already issued the company with a £500,000 fine for failing to protect the personal information of up to 15 million UK citizens during the same attack.

Unpatched system

Equifax had been warned in March that one of its databases – the Equifax Automated Consumer Interview System (ACIS) – suffered from a critical vulnerability, the FTC said.

The ACIS was used by members of the public to check their own credit reports. But because of the way that Equifax’s IT systems had evolved, it also provided a means for hackers to access other unrelated records stored by the firm.

The FTC alleged that Equifax’s security team ordered that the vulnerable systems be patched within 48 hours after being informed of the discovery in March 2017.

But the watchdog added that the firm failed to check that this was done, and that as a consequence multiple hackers were able to exploit the flaw and steal consumers’ personal details over a period of several months.

To make matters worse, it said, much of the sensitive information had been stored unencrypted in plain text.

As part of the settlement the FTC said that Equifax had also agreed to:

  • carry out its own annual audit of security risks
  • submit to an external assessment of its security efforts once every two years
  • ensure that third-parties given access to personal data stored by the firm also have adequate data protection measures in place
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November 2019